Travel series with a focus on food and culture

Food File: From plastic-free parties to waterproof recipes and live yoghurt pots

Tune into RTÉ One on Thursday, May 9th to catch chef and food writer Rory O'Connell on the first leg of his tour of European cities renowned for their food culture. A Long Weekend In . . . follows O'Connell as he explores Palma, Vienna, Lisbon, Madrid, Bath and Nantes in an eight-part series.

His grand tour kicks off in Palma de Mallorca, where he meets up with Spanish-born and London-based restaurateur Eddie Hart at El Camino, his new restaurant in the city.

There is a lot packed into each episode, with the cuisine and culture of each destination explored. “Food becomes much more interesting when seen in context – the culture it is part of, the landscape it is produced in, the history that has influenced it,” O’Connell says.

But, lest we succumb to a fit of envy, producer David Hare throws some light on the reality of making food and travel TV shows, when he says: “We have to work very fast, with just two days spent in each city – not even a long weekend – but we try to show what can be packed into a couple of days.”

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Zero waste partyware

If you've ever cleaned up after a party and despaired at the mountains of paper and plastic waste, salvation is at hand from Planet Sustie, whose creators say it is Ireland's only zero waste party store. Founded by Claire O'Caoimh and Róisín Carroll, the company's online shop can supply plates, cutlery, cups, napkins and party accessories, and they even come with a compostable refuse sack to help with the clear-up.

The options include some attractive plates made from palm leaves, that look like wood, and a whole range made from bagasse, a byproduct of sugar cane cultivation. Keeping with the eco theme, they have also sourced a range of children's party bag fillers, made of wood.

O’Caoimh has three children and Carroll has four, all aged between five and 16, and they both have full-time jobs, as administrators in the areas of law and bioscience, as well as running Planet Sustie.

Greaseproof recipes

Online recipe collections may be the way forward for some, but for others, paper still hasn’t lost its appeal. At the Triggerfish Cookshop in Blackrock, Co Dublin, you can find these Cook’s Notebooks, the pages of which are greaseproof and waterproof.

According to shop owner Bob Toal, the paper is made with limestone extract which is more environmentally friendly than pulp paper, and even the cover is made of vegan "leather". There are useful conversion tables at the back of the 144 rule lined pages, and a handy pocket for collecting clippings. They cost €24 and are available in the shop or online at triggerfishcookshop.ie.

Alternative to sugar-laden yoghurt

Live Yogi is a new product from Alan and Valerie Kingston’s Glenilen Farm in Drimoleague, Co Cork, that offers an alternative to the often sugar-laden yoghurts pitched at younger consumers. It is a live, natural, whole milk product, with just 1.5 per cent added sugar in the strawberry and vanilla varieties and none at all in the banana flavour.

Valerie Kingston has a BSc in food technology, and the yoghurt is made on the family farm. It is on sale in Dunnes Stores, Tesco, SuperValu, Centra and independent stores and costs €2.19 for four 90g child-sized pots.